It was disappointment again for Pools this evening as Tranmere Rovers edged a tight encounter.
Despite dominating large parts of the game, Pools failed to find the back of the net and were unable to reply as Rovers scored from the spot deep inside the second half and then doubled their lead inside injury time.
This was the very much improved display that Pools needed after Saturday’s FA Cup disappointment as Micky Barron’s side fought and chased for the ball.
The visitors did not get a touch on the ball inside the first five minutes as Pools came out in determined mood.
But Tranmere have not been in the top parts of the league for nothing and they tested Pools with two quick-fire efforts to make their mark on the game.
Neil Austin, playing at left back, made a desperate last-gasp clearance off the line as Jake Jervis looked to have given Rovers the lead.
Jervis broke clear again minutes after to run through on goal with just Scott Flinders to beat but fortunately the striker sent his effort wide of Flinders’ left hand post.
Liam Palmer pushed in from the left to and sent a ball into the box which caused a real scramble but an important deflection from the solid Peter Hartley sent the effort wide.
For the majority of the first half though, and increasingly towards the break, Pools were on top and dictating the pace of the game.
Neil Austin pushed forward from left back to unleash a fierce strike from distance that was not too far wide, while Jonathan Franks showed what he is capable of, skipping past one before putting the ball through the legs of another before whipping a good ball into the box.
With Pools’ midfield, marshaled solidly by Simon Walton, looking much more in control, Pools were a real threat.
And their hard work was appreciated by the home fans at The Vic tonight, who offered great support from the stands – applauding Pools off at the end of a goalless first half.
Pools’ hard work continued after the break with an early chance to break the deadlock; Steve Howard flicked the ball on for Franks and the lively winger pushed on into the box to fire in on goal only to be denied by Fon Williams with a good stop.
As Pools continued to dominate, Walton sent a powerful volley at goal from the edge of the box which scraped wide of Fon Williams’ post.
Andy Robinson went up the other end of the field to test Flinders with a decent strike from distance but the big keeper pulled off a good save to tip it over the bar. Ben Gibson headed wide from the resulting corner kick.
Great defending from Peter Hartley stole the ball from Palmer as he broke into the box as Pools worked hard at the back to keep a brighter Rovers out.
As the game neared an end, and the rain poured down inside the ground, Tranmere upped their pressure and Barron’s side were forced to work harder in defence.
Scott Flinders pulled off two top saves to keep things level, while Austin had to be, and was, strong at left back.
And then Pools were dealt yet another blow this season; with a ball in from the left played out to the edge of the area James Wallace picked it up where he was challenged by Peter Hartley. The referee, who was close by, was quick to point at the spot and award a penalty to the visitors.
Andy Robinson took it and made no mistake as he smashed it past Flinders to give Tranmere a 1-0 lead.
It was another big disappointment for Pools who had looked so much more in control this evening but just lacked that final touch to hit the back of the net and were punished at the other end.
Pools battled on but Tranmere doubled their lead with almost the final kick of the game as Cole Stockton fired home from just inside the area.
Full Time: Pools 0 Tranmere Rovers 2
Att: 3285 (144 Tranmere Rovers)
Booked: Pools – Richards (46); Tranmere - Robinson (9), Gibson (61)
Pools: Flinders, Richards, Collins, Hartley, Austin, Sweeney, Murray (Luscombe 80), Walton, Poole (Noble 65), Howard, Franks
Subs Not Used: McHugh, Horwood, Baldwin, Holden, Wyke
Tranmere Rovers: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Palmer, Wallace, Cassidy, Robinson, Bakayogo, Gibson, Bell-Baggie (McGurk 35), Jervis (Stockton)
Subs Not Used: Goodison, Thompson, Harrison, Kay, Mooney